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Exercise

March 30, 2017

Follow These Four Simple Steps to Promote Heart Health

Heart Health Month

Sure, when we think of heart health, aspects like intense cardio workouts come to mind. However, how can those of us with disabilities or conditions, including those of us who are aging, maintain – and even improve – our heart health? It’s easier and more practical than one may think.

Sleeping Your Way to a Healthier Heart

Indeed, increased heart health can be as easy as sleeping. Studies show that sleeping around 7 hours per night reduces calcium in arteries and heart disease. The quality of sleep, matters, too, so if you can get a truly sound 7 hours of sleep, you’re dramatically improving your heart health. Now that’s wonderful news!

View Your Weight Not Just From a Mirror, But From Your Heart

Weight is a physical, mental and emotional battle for many. It also weighs on your heart – literally. Speak with your doctor about your weight, and get a true diagnosis on whether your weight is appropriate. For most who are moderately overweight, losing just 5% can dramatically not only improve heart health, but decrease cholesterol. hypertension, and diabetes. This means for a 5’9” male, who ideally should weigh in the 170 lb. range, at 200 lbs., losing merely 10 pounds has a very positive effect on heart health, according to the American Medical Association.

Fuel Your Heart the Right Way

We often think of how our diet effects areas of our health. However, our hearts are the engines that power our bodies – and they, too, benefit from nutrition. Specifically, an easy way to note what best feeds our hearts are natural foods that grow. In the grocery store, this means staying away from packaged items, and looking toward fruits, vegetables and nuts. Additionally, if you’re out at a restaurant, according to WebMD, skip the steaks and pasta and look to the fish. Salmon, in particular, is rich with omega-3 fatty acids that have an anti-clogging effect, keeping blood flowing optimally to your heart.

E1 370 Series Platform Ergometer

The E1 370 Series Platform Ergometer

Your Heart Likes to Pump

Among the best ways to keep our hearts healthy is by using them beyond a resting state. Put simply, our hearts like when we move and make them work a bit. Exercise is a key to this, but in very liberal terms. Based on disability, condition or age, many have limitations when it comes to “exercise.” However, whatever movement we can do is very advantageous to heart health and getting our vascular system flowing. Specialized exercise machines are available, designed for those of us who are not able to stand to exercise in the ways we traditionally think of. Check out the upper and lower body Ergometers from Endorphin, and available at SpinLife.com . Always consult a physician before attempting any exercise program, but they can range from simple arm movements to as intense as handcycling for wheelchair users. Movement is the key, and it varies by individual.

Heart Health to a Natural Beat

We’ve all seen extremes when it comes to heart health, from triathletes to countless so-called supplements. However, the medical community proves that, regardless of disability, condition or age, there are very practical, everyday steps we can take toward better heart health – right down to how much we sleep, eat and move.

January 18, 2017

Relieve Pressure Using these Effective Wheelchair Stretches

pressure relief

Stretching and exercise are great ways to relieve pressure issues that come with prolonged sitting. Here are a couple of easy stretches that can be done, every day and without drawing undue attention to the exercise. Each technique can be done independently or with assistance; depending on your strength and balance. Be sure you are in a wheelchair of adequate weight when doing these stretches- for safety’s sake. Continue Reading

September 9, 2016

Therapeutic Massage: Improving Body, Mind and Spirit

therapeutic massage benefits

There’s no question that a massage – whether by a partner or a professional – can be the ultimate in relaxation.

However, did you know that therapeutic massage has become a scientifically-studied, proven form of treating many permanent disabilities, including spinal cord injuries (SCI)?

Twenty SCI patients, with injury levels between C5 and C7, were involved in a therapeutic massage study. Half were randomly selected to participate in massage therapy for 40 minutes, twice per week. The other control group participated in typical rehab exercise routines twice per week. After five weeks, both groups showed physical improvement. However, the massage therapy group not only showed significantly higher physical improvements, but also lower anxiety and depression scores. Put simply, massage therapy proved dramatically more beneficial than traditional exercise with this SCI study.

So, what specific areas does massage therapy help with?

Circulation

Among those with spinal cord injuries and other movement-restrictive conditions, proper circulation – especially in effected limbs – is among the leading causes of secondary health issues. These issues can range from as seemingly mundane as a tingling sensation to as deadly as blood clots. Therapeutic massage can dramatically improve blood flow as muscles and tissue is stimulated. And, again, with as little as two sessions per week, improved circulation can be sustained.

Range of Motion

For those with a loss of movement, muscles and joints can become limited in range of motion (ROM). At its most severe, limited ROM can lead to contractures, meaning parts of the body become fixed in position – for example, limbs that no longer straighten. Therapeutic massage reduces muscle tension (which even for those with SCIs, muscles may still involuntarily contract). This reduction in tension can allow joints and extremities to have increased ROM, decreasing the likelihood of contractures.

Spasticity and Tone

For those with spasticity and tone, the constant muscle extension and contraction can be fatiguing, painful and frustrating. Through therapeutic massage, the relation of the muscles can decrease these symptoms. Fatigue often exacerbates spasticity and tone, whereas relaxation can decrease it. By relaxing the muscles through therapeutic massage, the adverse effects of spasticity and tone are often dramatically decreased, allowing improved muscle control.

Emotional Well-being

Getting back to the aforementioned study, therapeutic massage has proven benefits beyond the physical. Disability experience can be difficult and stressful. Knowing the mind-body connection, relaxing one can relax the other. Those undergoing therapeutic massage universally express lower anxiety and less depression, a correlation to releasing endorphins and other chemicals that improve emotional mood and mental health.

Therapeutic Massage as Modern Medicine

When it comes to therapeutic massage, it’s no longer a mystery: modern medicine proves its benefits not only for the physical, but the emotional and mental. More and more outpatient rehabilitation facilities offer therapeutic massage, and it’s recommended for many with spinal cord injuries and other conditions for dramatic improvements in quality of life – mind, body and soul.

New technologies in therapeutic massage products can provide the next best thing to your own personal massage therapist. For soothing, kneading massage to ease sore neck and shoulder muscles, try the Osaki Kneading Massage Belt.

Kneading Massage Belt

Kneading Massage Belt

OmKnee Foot Massager

OmKnee Foot Massager

 

 

 

 

 

 

The OmKnee Foot Massager offers shiatsu massage to the feet and legs, and heated air-pressure massage to your calves and knees to increase circulation and ease knee pain.

 

For the ultimate in massage and relaxation, check out the Refresh Massage chair. Recline, relax and enjoy a full body compression massage any time! See our full range of therapeutic massage products at Spinlife.com.

therapeutic massage chair

Refresh Massage Chair

September 2, 2016

Interacting with Grandchildren – The Gift of Time Together

Attention: Grandchildren: Grandparents Day is 9/11/16.

Hey, even though I’m not a grandmother, I sure look forward to the day I am!

From what I hear, being a grandparent is a lot easier and better than being the parent. I’ll take that, thank you.

It’s not just the spoiling aspect that makes grandparenting special, but the freedom to love the family member without the same set of expectations we had with our own kids. We can listen and not pass the same judgment on their plans.  We are not knitted up thinking they should be something specific when they grow up, just because it reflects well on us.

Also, I think of grandparents as the quintessential people to show children low-tech, high touch, interaction, which our society definitely needs.

It was my own grandma that led to my career with people over 65.   I loved being one of four kids and going to see her by myself as I was growing up.  She doted on me all weekend.  ME!  Thank you, Grandma!  She’d ask, “What do you want for lunch, Dearie?”  “Do you want to go shop for a new shirt?”  I remember she had these gingerbread windmill cookies in her jar that was never empty.  By contrast, my own mom hid chocolate in her sock drawer, to stop us kids from finding it.  Anyway, I put two and two together and decided “old people” were the best!

If you’re uncertain how to interact with grandchildren, especially nowadays with technology being their favorite thing, here are a few, unique ideas:

Go outside together. 

This simple activity is gold because nature is the antidote to technology and we want young people to be outside more.  So go for a walk, explore, and connect. You might capitalize on the fact that your pace is a bit slower than the rush that others of us seem to be in.  How lovely not to rush, to not push for the next thing on the itinerary?  Kids need this.  We all do.

Odyssey Scooter from Drive Medical

 

Talk to your grandkids about items you used and saw in your lifetime that have disappeared now.

My mom shared this idea with me years ago.  She got to thinking about all the things she grew up with that were no longer a part of modern day, and made of list to share with my daughter.  I thought my then 13-year-old would balk or roll her eyes.  Instead, they sat on the couch together and laughed and chatted for over an hour.  My mom talked about paper drapes and carbon paper and bus tokens and my daughter listened with complete attention.  I kept an ear out and learned about things I didn’t know, also, and got to wondering what would be gone in my lifetime.  Maybe a corded telephone and a vinyl record will be completely gone when my grandchild comes along.

Continue Reading

August 22, 2016

Knee Replacement fundamentals: an insiders perspective

Doctor examining patient before knee replacement

Facing Total Knee Replacement surgery? Just last year it was my turn to be the patient.

I have always been an active person. I enjoy the outdoors, swimming, working out at the gym. Together with my husband, I have travelled all over the country on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. My right knee had deteriorated steadily for 25 years, to the point that it would no longer function. Because I was only 30 when it began to give me trouble, the Doctors advised me to postpone Total Knee Replacement surgery until I could no longer stand the pain. In 2015, I decided the time had come to get it fixed.

The next few months were interesting. After 15 years as a Medical Equipment Specialist, working with Physicians and their patients to supply the equipment they will need during their post-op rehabilitation, it was my turn at bat.  My name at the top of the prescription came as a bit of a shock. This was going to be my Total Knee Replacement.

I am thankful that I did have the background to know what to expect before and after surgery. After all, I had reviewed this with clients many times. All that information proved itself true, and I can summarize the best of the advice right here:

Before Total Knee Replacement

Do whatever you can to get in/stay in shape. The better physical condition you are in, the easier your recovery will be. I found the elliptical machine at the gym didn’t bother my knee too much, and it was good cardio. I did lots of upper-body work as well to help strengthen my arms and shoulders. If you need to lose weight, try to do so before the surgery as well.

Get the equipment you need before the operation. You will need these thing before your discharge, and I came home the next morning! Don’t think you will go shopping for them when you get out, have them ready. You will need the walker in the hospital, so bring it with you. Your individual physician may have his or her own preferred list, but at the very least, you will need the following:

A walker with wheels. I ordered one with a seat on it as well, so I could sit down if I needed to. That was a big help once I was able to go out to the store, etc.

Rolling Walker Rollator by Drive Medical

This walker and I became very good friends!

Several large Ice bags, or even better, purchase or rent a portable cold therapy machine. They reduce pain and inflammation and aid in a quicker recovery. And I used the portable cold therapy machine EVERY day for at least 3 months.

My doctor prescribed a CPM machine (Continuous passive motion) those units keep the knee joint moving continually so that the new joint remains mobile. That was rented for about 4 weeks only, and my insurance covered the rental fees.

Bath and Shower Seat with backrest

A shower seat, and hand held shower sprayer. Definitely. I felt dizzy for a while after surgery, so it’s a safety thing. Something about the steamy heat of a shower makes me a little woozy anyway, and you do not want to take any chance of falling!

A raised toilet seat. (If your toilet seat is high already you may not need this) The object is to make it easier for you to get up.


 Chrome hand held shower spray by Drive Medical Designs

 Folding Pedal Exerciser

 

 

 

 

After Total Knee Replacement

Take your pain meds as prescribed. Particularly at the beginning keep ahead of the pain and just take it. (I do not like taking pills of any kind either, but honestly, just take it) Take it before you do your Physical Therapy and you will be able to work harder. I took pain meds every day for 6 weeks.

You have to do your Physical Therapist even though it hurts like crazy. Push yourself. Then ice and rest. It gets easier, I promise.

Get back to your regular exercise routine as soon as you can. Stationary bikes are great for new knees.

Honestly, I felt better every day after surgery. I suffered a few setbacks over the months, mostly when I backed off of the stretching and exercises I was supposed to continue doing. It was one full year before I felt completely recovered, and now I am so glad it’s behind me and my surgery was a success.

Last month my family surprised me with a beach vacation on my birthday. I took long, pain-free walks every day on the beach. What a blessing that was, and I am so grateful for my new knee!